Down East 2013 ©
Throw a Shindig, Maine-style
York, Boothbay Harbor, (or any approved firepit or grill)
The clambake is one of the most iconic Maine events. A feast of lobsters, clams, corn, and often blueberry pie to finish it off, a clambake is the coastal Maine version of the barbecue, the pig roast, or the luau. And while there are plenty of Maine companies that will do the cooking, we think it’s much more fun to do it yourself. The number one requirement — a big appetite.
1. Start off by finding a location. It’s best to do it on your own property, but any campfire station or beach pit (check to make sure that such fires are allowed first) will do.
2. Use four cinder blocks positioned vertically to make a square foundation, in the middle of which you will build a fire. (If you are at a campfire site, make do with the pre-existing structure. You can even get creative with a grill. Just remember that the experience boils down to enjoying fully-cooked lobster and clams outside.)
3. Build the fire with wood and newspaper, but don’t light it just yet.
4. Place a sheet of metal over the wood so that it is sturdy and centered, with the four corners resting on top of the cinder blocks.
5. Pile a layer of seaweed — it makes a fun morning activity to gather it — on the metal sheet so it is covered entirely.
6. Nestle in some eggs (leave them in the carton), potatoes, and onions. Add the live lobsters, clams, and ears of corn on top.
7. Cover the pile of food with seaweed again.
8. Cover the seaweed with aluminum foil (making sure to tuck it between the seaweed and the metal sheet so that all the heat stays in).
9. Cover the foil with another layer of seaweed to keep it from blowing away.
10. Light the fire. The flame should be steady and very hot. Let it cook for an hour and a half.
11. Use oven mitts to remove the food, and then enjoy with drawn butter and lots of paper towels.
If the whole thing seems a bit too involved, there are plenty of companies that will prepare the feast for you (or for a special event like a wedding or reunion). Check out Foster’s Downeast Clambake (207-363-3255, www.fostersclambake.com ) of York, who has even demonstrated its skills at the White House, or Cabbage Island Clambakes (207-633-7200, www.cabbageislandclambakes.com ), based out of East Boothbay.